Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by james from Bend, OR. james Wonders, “who made pyramids?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, james!

Have you ever tried to make a human pyramid?  Climbing on your friends’ backs is tricky work.  It’s even worse if you are on the bottom! Want to know what is more challenging, though? Try building a real one!

Have you ever been to Giza? It’s in Egypt, not far from Cairo. If so, you’ve probably seen those massive structures the Egyptians are famous for. What are we talking about? The Great Pyramids, of course!

Over 130 pyramids have been discovered throughout Egypt. But the most famous ones stand at Giza. One of these, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, is the tallest in the world. It’s the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing.

When it was built, the Great Pyramid of Khufu was 488 feet tall. It’s made of over 1.3 million massive limestone blocks. Each block can weigh anywhere from 5,000 to over 30,000 pounds. 

The Great Pyramids at Giza continue to amaze scientists to this day. How were these massive structures built over 4,500 years ago? The Egyptians didn’t have today’s technology and construction methods.

People have many theories about how these large structures were built. Some people have suggested aliens had something to do with it. Researchers, however, now believe that a dedicated workforce of 20,000-30,000 Egyptian laborers built the Great Pyramids. They say the workers did so over the course of several decades for three different Pharaohs.

Experts say that Giza was home to a small crew that worked on the Great Pyramids all year long. Late in the summer and early in the fall, however, the nearby Nile River would often flood. This left many fields underwater. At these times, researchers believe that thousands of farmers and villagers would come to Giza. They would work as laborers when they couldn’t farm their lands.

Still, many have puzzled over how the Egyptians moved such massive stones into place. They do know the ancient Egyptians made use of basic tools. They had inclined planes (ramps) and levers to help move the stones.

Recent research has also found evidence that most of the stone came from local quarries. It could have been pulled to the building site on giant sleds. If you think that sounds like grueling work, you’re right.

However, ancient Egyptians may have used a technique that made their work much easier. An ancient wall mural shows a large object being pulled by ropes attached to a sled. A worker appeared to be pouring water on the sand in front of the sled.

Researchers put this to the test. They found that wetting the sand reduces friction. This makes the sled much easier to pull. The huge stones could have been moved the short distance from the quarry  in this way.

The Great Pyramids are an amazing feat of architecture. What other great structures can you think of? Many of today’s buildings are a WONDER to behold!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

What do rainclouds and Roy G. Biv have in common? Swing by Wonderopolis tomorrow to meet this WONDERfully colorful fellow and find out!